The Times Cheltenham Science Festival (2-7 June 2015) brings another stellar programme to Cotswolds this summer. Over the course of six days, the Festival hopes to inspire, challenge, surprise and entertain visitors in equal measure. It showcases ground-breaking research, debates big questions and introduces audiences to some of the world’s greatest thinkers. The 2015 Festival also has a fascinating range of space-themed events.
Particle physicist, retired rock star and presenter of the BBC’s Wonders of the Solar System, Brian Cox is the Royal Society’s newly appointed Professor for Public Engagement in Science at Manchester University. Join Brian as he talks with Adam Rutherford about particle physics, the importance of getting people engaged with science and why the UK needs to aspire to be the best place for science in the world.
What does the long-range future hold? Is there just one universe, or is ours one of many? Past President of the Royal Society Martin Rees goes from Mars to the multiverse, with astonishing recent developments in astronomy and cosmology: from unmanned spacecraft exploring our own solar system, to telescopes that reach as far as the Big Bang — and perhaps gives hints of other big bangs!
Mars is our nearest neighbour, but how do we get a better look at it? Land a 1 tonne, car-sized, laser-eyed nuclear powered robot laboratory named Curiosity on its surface, that’s how! Since 2012, the rover has been tasting, vaporising and rolling over the Martian landscape. Join Sanjeev Gupta, Peter Grindrod and John Bridges to get the latest on the red planet from Curiosity.
In 2014, Rosetta finally reached its destination after a ten-year, 6 billion km journey, becoming the first spacecraft in history to orbit a comet and land a probe on its surface. Join astrobiologist Lewis Dartnell, Rosetta project scientist Matt Taylor and planetary and space scientist Monica Grady to find out what happened when Philae touched down, the latest discoveries from Rosetta and what exciting breakthroughs are yet to come.
In 2014, cosmologists were thrilled to report ripples emanating from the beginning of time. But in a widely-publicised debacle these were proved false, the results most likely due to dust in the Milky Way. Andrew Pontzen joins experts Andrew Jaffe and George Efstathiou as they explain what went wrong, the effect this had on cosmology and what happens next as we continue searching for the moments after the Big Bang.
Space is an expensive business; this recent Rosetta mission is said to have cost £1.4bn. Although space research is often seen as glamorous and exciting, should research here on earth take priority? Asking whether we can justify the cost are Monica Grady, who organised a Kickstarter campaign to fund a mission to the moon, Director of RAL Space Richard Holdaway and former European Commission Chief Scientific Adviser Anne Glover.
For more than 50 years, giant telescopes like those at Jodrell Bank Observatory have searched the skies for evidence of alien civilisations. Join Jodrell Bank’s Tim O’Brien as he describes recent progress in the Search for Extra-terrestrial Intelligence (SETI), including live data links to giant telescopes, and considers what the future may hold in our attempts to make contact with our cosmic neighbours.
Festival visitors can join the Cotswold Astronomical Society for an evening of stargazing or for a bit of Festival fun, audiences can join a spoof mission to Mars. Masquerading as highly trained astronauts, participants should be prepared to face the worst case scenario!
The full Festival programme is available at cheltenhamfestivals.com